State of Affairs

TV review by
Kari Croop, Common Sense Media
State of Affairs TV Poster Image
Complicated D.C. drama has a fierce but flawed heroine.

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Kids say

age 13+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Ongoing plot involves treason/treachery and ever-changing threats to national security -- but also a search for justice and truth. Teamwork is critical to neutralizing threats and saving lives.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Main character is strong, assertive, and smart but struggles with personal demons, acting out via binge drinking and sex with random partners. She reports to a female commander in chief who is African-American, defying conventional stereotypes. Supporting cast is notably diverse.


Visuals include explosions, shootings, and some blood. The most graphic acts (including torture and beheadings) are strongly implied but not shown.


Sexual innuendo; simulated sex with kissing, lingerie, and some bare skin but no sensitive parts shown.


Audible words include "ass," "hell," "horny," "vagina," and the like.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Social/binge drinking; cigarette smoking.

What parents need to know

Parents needs to know that State of Affairs centers on a type-A CIA analyst who prepares a daily report of the nation's most pressing national security issues and presents it to the president. Dealing with terrorism, torture, and other forms of violence is part of her job, so scenes can be intense but stop short of showing the most graphic acts, such as beheadings. The main character also regularly turns to alcohol and casual sex to avoid dealing with personal problems, and sex is suggested with lingerie and the like but is never explicit. ​You'll hear gateway terms such as "ass" and "hell," too, along with sexually charged talk about being "horny" and so on. 

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Teen, 13 years old Written bySuRfBoRd November 26, 2014

Copy of Homeland

State of affairs is honestly a watered down version of homeland. The dialog is dull, the characters are poorly developed, and the plot is horribly explained. It... Continue reading

What's the story?

Three years after her fiancé -- sitting president Constance Payton's (Alfre Woodard) son -- died in a terrorist attack, top CIA analyst Charleston "Charlie" Tucker (Katherine Heigl) is still looking for the killers who carried it out. But Charlie and her team are also tasked with preparing the President's daily briefing, or PDB, a rotating roster of the most pressing security issues facing the nation, which means Charlie's STATE OF AFFAIRS is constantly changing.

Is it any good?

Primetime hits such as ScandalThe Good Wife, and Homeland are proof that political thrillers built around strong female leads can be popular with both viewers and critics, breaking new ground along the way for women in television. But, although the similarly themed State of Affairs is clearly aiming for the A-list with stars such as Heigl and Woodard, it feels like it's a little late to the party -- and that it got lost along the way.

The cons include a plot that vacillates among the convoluted, the confusing, and the flat-out improbable, with a lead actress who, although likable, isn't always believable as a high-level CIA operative at the top of her game. As far as pros go, though, the show shoves aside outdated boundaries by making the U.S. president not only a woman but a woman of color, broadening the standard definition of "executive power" and rolling out a refreshing new role model.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about State of Affairs' premise and how realistically it portrays the lives of women in power. What does it get right -- and wrong? Does the fact that the show's fictional president is a woman (and a woman of color) change the feel of the White House?

  • How does State of Affairs compare to other dramas about high-powered women in leadership roles (Scandal, Madam Secretary, Homeland)? Does it do anything differently, and, if so, does it work?

  • How does State of Affairs' central heroine rate as a role model, and how heavily do her flaws factor in? 

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love drama and strong women

Themes & Topics

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